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Thread: Mean Bees

  1. #21
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    Apr 2011
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    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
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    53

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    I'll get the new queen in there tomorrow and then give them a few days. If that doesn't work, we'll split them. Thanks.

  2. #22
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    May 2011
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    Kingsville, OH
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    959

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Re: Mean Bees
    In theory, if meanness was only genetic, you would have to wait for the existing bees to all die off. In reality I've seen them calm down almost instantly, which brings the genetic theory into doubt, or at least makes it likely that there are multiple things involved that cause a hive to be "hot". It's possible that it will take a few weeks. It's possible they will calm down soon. I would have split them as that calms them down a lot instantly.


    Mr. Bush:
    I did make a nuc from this hive early in June. Maybe I should explain this is a new hive as of April 29th. 11, from a 3 pound package.
    Before I split this hive it was over flowing with bees.
    Then latter I made a nuc form it and have been takin brood from it since the nuc was made in late June. One of the reasons I made a Nuc from it was, the queen had laid eggs in the supper.
    Another lesson learned,,or being taught, poor producers don't get better with time.

    I only wish I could reproduce the bees from my rescued hive, but it was queenless. Even queenless it is still filling suppers. I requeened it with an Italian and lost her. Now I have another queen in there with the hive, maybe some of the drones mated with her.

  3. #23
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    Jul 2010
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    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
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    318

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Let me describe Aunt Bee's feeder before we trash entrance feeders any more. Her TBH has a slot cut in the far end away from the entrance. The feeder bottom slides in securely (although she mentioned she has a small hole, which may be the problem) so no bees can get to it without first coming through the entrance and going the entire length of the hive (40") to get to the feed. So while it may be called an entrance feeder due to it's design, it is nowhere near the entrance. And from what I've read in the last year, I would think that 1:1 sugar water is good for this time of year. She'll increase the sugar to water ratio later in the fall.

  4. #24
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    Sep 2009
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    Millbury, MA, USA
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    1,847

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-beek View Post
    "I use feed jars all the time... never been an issue and no robbing with them."

    You must have one colony, entrance jar feeders are known most for robbing issues.
    Actually I have about 30

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Stewart, Tennessee, USA
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    29

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by AuntBee View Post
    Okay. Will that help with their temperament?
    Probably not, but 1:1 is spring build up feed and 2:1 is fall feed, it doesn't take as much work for them to dry it.

  6. #26
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    Jul 2009
    Location
    Chippew County, WI, USA
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    Default Re: Mean Bees

    "Actually I have about 30"

    And you dont get robbing? Thats really hard to believe when in a dearth you can hardly keep a hive open for a few minutes without a cloud of bees developing around it. You dont read over and over the robbing problems associated with entrance feeders for no reason.

    What kind of bees do you keep? If carnies you might not have the issues you would with Italians.

    A lady bought bees from me last year and ignored my warning on entrance feeders. Her colony got robbed to death literally by bees kept near by. She did not reduce her entrance however, but you cant tell me sugar syrup at the front door had no part in its demise.

    Good luck with yours.

  7. #27
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    Sep 2009
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    Millbury, MA, USA
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    1,847

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    I use feed jars through a hole in the migratory top. And, yes I have mostly Carni bees.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Tigard, OR
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    119

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    I have carnies, a TBH and I used an entrance feeder all our long 'spring'. I had no robbing, probably because there weren't any other bees around (one of my reasons for getting a hobby hive) and probaby because the feeder itself acts like a reducer.
    Quit slamming the entrance feeder people - for some purposes it's perfect. (Just not when you can't refill it every other day).
    As for me, all I know is that I know nothing...
    - Socrates

  9. #29
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Anderson County, Texas
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    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by AuntBee View Post
    My bees are furious. They attack every time I try to check my hive. Not just a few, but clouds of them swarming at me, following me a long way from the hive, and continuing to buzz and sting at me.
    Summer dearth increases defensiveness as a colony must be more defensive to survive robbing from other bees. Also, you didn't mention smoking them. I had several defensive colonies I was feeding from a jar over the inner cover, covered with another box and top. Whenever I lifted the top they were all over me. I began smoking them to see if they would respond to smoke and they did.

    Quote Originally Posted by AuntBee View Post
    We have had a hot, dry summer, and two weeks ago they didn't have any honey stored so I started feeding 1:1 sugarater. They are drinking about a quart a day. They seem to be bringing in plenty of pollen.
    1:1 sugar: water is good for this time of year. It is hot dry summer and the bees need the extra moisture in the colony to evaporate for cooling purposes. Those that I have fed, that is the mixture I use here in East Texas and it has worked well for me.

    Getting stung a few times during the dearth of summer is not a sign of an overly aggressive colony. Bees must be more defensive this time of year, otherwise they will get robbed to death especially if they are getting fed. Also, before I would be killing a productive queen during the dearth, I would have checked to see if they responded to smoke [which should decrease their defensiveness. However, what you can stand is in the eye of the beholder, or should I say the beekeeper. What is overly aggressive to one may not be to another. Also, aggressiveness has nothing to do with productive colony; however, my more defensive colonies handle the small hive beetles much better.

    Also, I consider a colony aggressive [as opposed to defensive] when they attack for no apparent reason. You have given them plenty of reason to attack you.

    Danny
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  10. #30
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    Jan 2008
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    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
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    1,699

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    The smell of the skunk is enough for them to get their hackles up. Add that to the fall dearth you are in, and you will have some mean bees untill they get their feed. They will soon calm down a little.
    Bees change with the seasons. In the spring they are calm and gentle, the summer too busy to care. In the fall they can be like rabid creatures on steriods. Such is the way with bees...and the reason why we feed, reduce entrances, suit up, and use a smoker

  11. #31
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    Jul 2010
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    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Aunt Bee is my sister and I went out to her house this past weekend to see her "mean bees". I have five hives and live within 20 miles, so our conditions are similar. We DID smoke the hive before opening it and waited a couple of minutes before opening it up. The hive is a top bar. I removed the first bar and they were a little defensive. By the time I pulled the third bar, they were VERY defensive. We were both in full gear, so we didn't get stung. We went ahead and found the queen (luckily she was near the end we started on) and verified there was capped brood. There was also honey/sugar water stored but not yet capped. I caught the queen and put her in a cage and took one sting on the hand. We had taken the comb around the other side of the house, and bees had followed us from the hive and were still mad. I can understand this since we had bees and the queen. We went back to the hive and closed it up. Fifteen minutes after the hive was closed, and 60 feet away, we were still being buzzed by mad bees. I had a spare queen at my house we were going to put in her hive, so at that point I pinched her queen. I then took a sting to the corner of my eye, Aunt Bee headed for the house and I jumped in my truck and went home! I would call the last part more aggressive than defensive. I thought she was doing something wrong until I went out and saw for myself. My bees are nothing like that. We'll see how the new queen works out.

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Jonesborough,Tennessee
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    183

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Sorry you got popped in the eye.

    Excellent story tho.

    Reminds me of some of the "feral" bee stories that took place when I was a kid when we would cut down a hollow black locust full of them.

    Us young'ens would get lit up by them and the ole man that knew what he was doing, would wade into them like they were gnats.

    Never get stung.

  13. #33
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    May 2009
    Location
    Anderson County, Texas
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    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Steve, one thing I didn't mention in my original post is that I also, had considered requeening those defensive colonies, but mine responded to smoke. Overly aggressive colonies should certainly be dealt with because of the risk of them being Africanized.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveBee View Post
    Fifteen minutes after the hive was closed, and 60 feet away, we were still being buzzed by mad bees.
    I understand as overly defensive/aggressive is certainly in the eye of the beekeeper. I am treatment free and value my survivor genetics [especially from a productive colony] and probably tolerate more defensive/aggressive behavior as the result. Colonies being robbed or harvested [by animals or humans] are more reactive. Skunks will work a colony at night causing the bees to attack the next day in what may be thought by us as an unprovoked attack, but the bees might have a different view of that. So 15 minuntes later, 60 feet away [20 yards] would be understandable to me and I would not consider this aggressive but rather a continuation of their defensive response. Also, to me there is a difference in getting headbutted and an occassional sting or two [or 5-10] as opposed to an aggressive colony that will leave several hundred stingers in your clothes. I normally wear blue jeans and a light colored long sleeve shirt with hat, veil and gloves. My jeans always have several stingers. [I would rather take my regular bee venom vaccinations through my pants on my legs than on my face ] . But that being said, I have deveolped somewhat of a tolerance from their venom with little to no pain no swelling. Often I will find I have been stung several days later when I [or my wife] dig the stingers out of a little puss pocket. Certainly defensive/aggressive bees will be dealt with much quicker in close proximity of people on a regular basis, as opposed to the occassional contact in a remote location. I am sure you adequately dealt with the problem for your circumstances.

    Kindest Regards
    Danny
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Clarks Green, PA
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    28

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    I have been having the same problem.
    My hive has been very easy to work with up until about 3 weeks ago. I noticed on the last visit that the guard bees were immediately checking out any bee that landed and seemed very agitated and nervous. Given that there are many other insects working the flowers around the hive, I am guessing that there was some robbing going on, or at least, some unwanted visitors.My suspicions were confirmed when I saw a dead bumble bee. a foot away from the entrance. I'm not sure there is anything that can be done to calm them down when they are on the defensive. I know smoke did not do it, so I will just have to be a little more observant and cautious on my next visit.

  15. #35
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    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Two observations -
    First, when you notice robbing, or suspect robbing, it's time to reduce the entrance.
    Second, there are entrance feeders and there are entrance feeders... By that I mean, the entrance feeder designed for the top bar hive apparently functions different than the traditional Boardman feeder slid into the entrance of a typical Langstroth Hive. And i don't know that an entrance feeder put over the inner cover of a hive, with a hive body around it, counts as an entrance feeder any more.

    Folks who use the Boardman entrance feeder with a full-open entrance seem to be inviting trouble. Folks who use the Boardman entrance feeder with a reduced entrance seem to have less problems. And some Boardman feeders leak more than others, which causes problems. But generally speaking, there are much better ways to feed a colony, than a Boardman entrance board feeder.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  16. #36
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    Mar 2010
    Location
    robertsdale,Al.,USA
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    236

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    the hives I keep in my yard were very gentle,until 2 weeks ago.they turned vicious.2 of them.today I walked past the mean 1 not thinking&they were back to normal.guess they've got a flow going again

  17. #37
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    Apr 2011
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
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    53

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Thanks to everyone for all the responses. I still have a LOT to learn!

    The bees seemed to be somewhat calmer today, though we haven't been able to requeen yet. At least they let me water my flowerbed without acting like they wanted to kill me, but I had at least one hover around me every time I was outside in my front or back yard, which they have never done until the past few days. Last night, they buzzed me, but didn't sting, even though I waited until after dark to water.

    I have lots of bumblebees, so I'll guess I'll try reducing the the entrance to 3 holes instead of the four I have had open. I have been thinking that it would be better ventilated with all four holes open.

    I blocked the just-barely-bee-sized hole near the feeder where I saw a bee enter the other day. I am nearly sure that bee was one of mine, as I had just replaced the empty jar with a full one and the bees that were on the empty one were trying to get back inside. Anyhoo...they have to go around to the entrance holes now.

    There was a light scent of skunk in the air this morning, so maybe that is what is keeping them upset. I don't think a skunk could rob them due to the way the holes are placed, but the smell may be enough, as suggested by Honeyshack. It makes me a little crazy, too, for that matter.

    I have sent some photos to SteveBee. If he can get them to resize small enough to post, we'll get them on here so you can see how the feeder jar and entrance holes are situated.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  18. #38
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    Apr 2011
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    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Mean Bees

    GOOD NEWS! Happy to report that today when I swapped the empty feed jar out the girls just ignored me! YES! FINALLY!!!! I even watered the entire yard without a single threatening visitor. It's been about a week since we requeened.

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,316

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    Tell tale signs of skunks are little piles of dead soggy bees. Sometimes scratches on the front of the hive as well.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    robertsdale,Al.,USA
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    236

    Default Re: Mean Bees

    a week with a new queen ?the bees from the old queen still have a few more weeks to live.maybe it wasn't the queen

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